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SPORTS – NFL’s 2011 rookie class off to a fine start (AP)

September 14, 2011

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

DENVER – So, maybe that long lockout didn’t hurt the NFL rookies after all — aside from the big hits they took to their wallets.

With the league’s new salary structure redistributing the mega-millions to vested veterans instead of first-year players, and encouraging the 2011 draft class to prove its worth, a slew of rookies distinguished themselves on the NFL’s opening weekend.

The stellar debuts included those by Green Bay receiver/returner Randall Cobb, Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and cornerback/punt returner Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals.

None was more impressive — or seemed more improbable — than the performance of Carolina’s Cam Newton, who broke the NFL record for most yards passing by a rookie in his pro debut.

The Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn was the first overall draft pick, but questions about his accuracy carried through the preseason, when he completed barely 40 percent of his passes and looked as lost as any rookie who missed more than four months of workouts due to the league’s labor dispute.

Now, the questions have turned from whether he’ll be a good NFL quarterback to just how good he’ll be after breaking the mark of 346 yards set by Hall of Famer Otto Graham in 1950.

Newton ignited a Carolina offense that finished last in the NFL in total offense, yards passing, and scoring last season by throwing for 422 yards, the fifth-highest opening day total in NFL history (it was the fourth-highest for 24 hours before being surpassed Monday night by Tom Brady).

“He did everything everybody didn’t expect him to do,” said receiver Steve Smith, who caught TD throws of 77 and 26 yards from Newton. “He was on point. He made some great runs, some great reads and some fantastic throws.”

Newton may have made a believer out of some of his critics, but his teammates have always been in his corner.

“He’s had the world on his shoulders for a year now and I think he’s sort of getting used to it,” Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross said. “It was a tough game. He got hit a lot and there was a lot of crowd noise. He had incredible composure against all odds. He was as advertised.”

Of course, the rookie in that game who came out a winner wasn’t Newton but Peterson, who returned a punt 89 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and added five tackles in Arizona’s 28-21 win.

Newton, whose bid for a game-tying drive in the final minute fell a yard short, makes his home debut Sunday against the defending champion Packers, who were sparked by their own remarkable rookie in Week 1.

Randall Cobb, a second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, caught a touchdown pass and tied an NFL record for longest kickoff return with a 108-yarder in the Packers’ 42-34 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.

The opening weekend came to a close Monday night in Denver, where former Texas A&M pass-rusher Von Miller, who was selected one spot behind Newton in the draft, forced a fumble on his first snap as a pro. Scooping it up was safety and fellow rookie Rahim Moore, a second-round selection from UCLA.

They were two of the Broncos’ record four rookies to start on opening day, a 23-20 loss to Oakland.

Other rookies made immediate impacts that didn’t show up in fantasy football stats, at least not directly.

New England’s first-round draft pick, left tackle Nate Solder, started for an injured Sebastian Vollmer, and Brady didn’t miss a beat, shaking off a rare turnover to throw for a team record 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yarder to Wes Welker in the Patriots’ 38-24 win at Miami.

Solder helped the Patriots prove the exception to the notion that the offensive line and secondary would be the groups most affected by the lack of OTAs because they need the most synergy.

“We all worked together, and I think that’s good for him,” Solder said of Brady, who recorded the 11th 500-yard passing performance in NFL history.

Marcel Dareus, the third overall pick out of Alabama, was a beast for the Buffalo Bills in their 41-7 whooping of the Chiefs in Kansas City.

The Bills had the worst run defense in the league last year but with Dareus anchoring the middle with his 6-foot-3, 340-pound frame, they held Jamaal Charles to 56 yards rushing. Although he was only credited with two tackles, Dareus was so good at jamming up the line of scrimmage with his brute force and agility that Buffalo’s linebackers had a field day.

By contrast, the Chiefs got nothing from their rookies. Jonathan Baldwin, who hurt a thumb in a training camp fight with Thomas Jones, was one of many first-round picks across the league that weren’t even active on opening weekend.

The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t dress their top three picks but started rookies at two important spots, sixth-rounder Jason Kelce at center and fourth-rounder Casey Matthews at middle linebacker. Nine of the 32 first-rounders didn’t play Sunday with five of them inactive.

And the low draft pick who got the highest marks was Chris Neild, a nose tackle from West Virginia whom the Redskins chose with the next-to-last overall pick in the draft. He had two sacks and forced a fumble despite playing just a handful of snaps in Washington’s 28-14 win over the Giants.

“In college last year I had three sacks the whole season, the year before that I had none,” Neild said. “So I didn’t expect that at all, I just went out there and tried to do my job.”

Kerrigan, the Redskins’ first-rounder, swung the momentum early in the third quarter when he batted Eli Manning’s pass into the air, caught it and returned it 9 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

“I just remember not really being able to see anything,” said Kerrigan, the No. 16 overall pick from Purdue, “as I was getting mauled by my teammates.”

It was a familiar scene for first-timers across the NFL in Week 1.

___

AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi and Sports Writers Tom Withers, Dave Skretta, Joseph White, Tom Canavan and Steven Wine contributed.

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Connect with AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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FBI contacted Sony about death threats

September 14, 2011

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

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A temporary has been issued against a man threatened Ne-Yo, and a number of Sony executives. The man, Jeff Choi claims that Sony released some songs about him without his permission and was caught at the Sony offices, threatening, Ne-Yo, Clive Davis, Sony and CFO Kevin Kelleher.

Sony shoot contact with the FBI about the incident in August, and Choi was arrested and ordered a psychiatric examination. After evaluating Choi further reports to make threats. Sony now has a restraining order prohibiting Choi from going near the Sony and filed offices of going anywhere near Davis and Kelleher. A hearing for the injunction is permanent on the 28th September.

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SPORTS – Full committees back as NBA owners, players meet (AP)

September 14, 2011

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

NEW YORK – NBA owners and players are meeting again Tuesday, this time with their full bargaining committees as the negotiations to end the league’s lockout reach an important stage.

With less than three weeks until training camps would open, the sides know progress must be made soon to avoid having to make cancelations later this month. Both have said there is still time to reach a new labor deal that would keep the 2011-12 calendar intact.

After three meetings in the last two weeks between small groups, the owners’ labor relations committee and the union’s executive committee rejoined the talks for the first time since late June, before the work stoppage began on July 1.

Players expressed frustration then that owners were still sticking to points from their original proposal of early 2010. That included pay cuts and shorter contracts for the players, along with changes to the current salary cap system.

The process has been more cordial since, even if not significantly more productive, sparking hopes that the sides are more willing to compromise now. But players’ association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said last week that they couldn’t go much further without bringing the large groups, who would help leadership know how to proceed.

“To think about where we were July 1 to now in terms of just the process itself, not what’s being discussed and what type of deal it will end up being, just the process itself, we’ve put in a lot of time,” he said last week. “And we’re going to try to continue that process and see if we can get a fair deal done as soon as possible.”

Players and owners could meet again Wednesday in New York, and the sides will update their memberships on the state of the negotiations Thursday. Owners are scheduled to meet in Dallas, while the union is headed to Las Vegas to talk to players taking part in the Impact Academy basketball league.

During the 1998 lockout that reduced the season to 50 games, training camps that were scheduled to open Oct. 5 were postponed on Sept. 24. Camps would open Oct. 3 this year.

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SPORTS – NCAA Boise State gets probation scholarship cuts (AP)

September 14, 2011

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

BOISE, Idaho – The Boise State NCAA placed on probation for three years, leading other penalties Tuesday for serious violations by the football program and other sports

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sanctions were a public reprimand, a one-year post season ban for women’s tennis and recruiting limitations and reductions for the affected sports science. Some of the penalties previously imposed by the university itself.

Among the sanctions will provide the Boise State football program is able to be nine fewer scholarships through the 2013-14 season. That’s six fewer than Boise State self-imposed sanctions announced this year. The football team will be allowed even less contact practices in spring training for three years. In addition, Boise State will be banned for two years by the international recruitment of future student-athletes for cross country and track and field, and for the women’s tennis. The sanctions follow an NCAA inquiry that a lack of institutional controls necessary to comply fully with the rules for Collegiate Athletic programs found. The NCAA says the case there were numerous serious injuries, involving more than 75 prospective students and athletes in five sports. “The Committee noted that a competitive advantage was gained, in most cases,” said Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, a member of the NCAA violations committee, which investigated the case.

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Windows Developer Preview 8: when and where to download (update: now, here)

September 14, 2011

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

Do you have a brain full of Windows 8 ? Can not stop obsessive? Fret not – as of 8:00 PT this evening (about 8 hours from now), you’ll be able to provide a copy of the Windows developer preview to download your 32 – or 64-bit x86 machine (no activation) of dev.windows.com . Sorry, ARM hopes! As usual, we would recommend this to a separate partition (or a spare machine in total) in order to avoid unforeseen conflicts, and we would also point out that a stiff glass of patience waiting nearby. Something tells us Redmond servers will be hammered.

Update : The download is live! Click here to try it themselves, while the slightly less brave depend for our first impressions of the latest and greatest from Microsoft once we have installed and there to try it.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in

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SPORTS – Manny Ramirez out of jail after battery charge (AP)

September 14, 2011

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Former World Series MVP Manny Ramirez, a colorful slugger who abruptly retired this year amid allegations of banned substance use, is now facing criminal prosecution on charges that he slapped his wife during an argument.

Ramirez, 39, could get up to a year in jail if convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery charges. He was released on $ 2,500 bail Tuesday after spending the night in the Broward County Jail, with little to say to a knot of waiting reporters.

“No thanks,” Ramirez said when asked for comment. “Let me see, where’s my family?”

Ramirez hopped into a white Cadillac Escalade driven by his sister and was whisked away. A few minutes earlier, the Broward Sheriff’s Office released a tape of the 911 call made by his wife, 32-year-old Juliana Ramirez, from their sprawling home in the Ft. Lauderdale suburb of Weston.

“My husband just hit me,” Juliana Ramirez says calmly on the tape.

When the dispatcher asks where she was struck, Juliana replies, “My face and my head, in the bed. I have a bump on my head.”

The dispatcher then asks if Juliana has a safe room to get away from her husband.

“He’s not doing anything anymore because he knows I’m calling the police,” she says. Later, Juliana told sheriff’s deputies she called 911 because she was afraid the situation would escalate.

At a brief court appearance Tuesday, Ramirez was ordered to have no direct contact with his wife by County Judge John Hurley. An attorney who attended the hearing on his behalf did not immediately respond Tuesday to an email requesting comment.

After his release, Ramirez walked out of the jail alone and was confronted by reporters. He had told investigators only that he grabbed his wife by the shoulders during an argument and “shrugged” her, causing her to hit her head on the headboard of their bed. But he wouldn’t discuss the incident Tuesday.

When a reporter said “You have to give us something,” Ramirez replied: “Not my problem.”

He spoke to another TV reporter in Spanish and put his arm around two of the female reporters. He was wearing a tight, muscle-showing T-shirt and dark, low-slung pants.

The Escalade’s driver, who identified herself as his sister, spoke briefly.

“He’s my brother; we love him no matter what. He’s an amazing guy and we love him no matter what,” she said before rolling up the window. She refused to give her name.

Ramirez retired in April from the Tampa Bay Rays after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second violation of Major League Baseball’s drug policy, the 12-time All-Star left the game.

Ramirez previously served a 50-game ban in 2009 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Second-time offenders get double that penalty.

One of the game’s great sluggers, Ramirez was named MVP of the World Series in 2004 and helped the Boston Red Sox end an 86-year title drought.

He was selected 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians in the 1991 amateur draft out of New York City and rose quickly through the minor leagues with youthful exuberance and natural charisma.

He broke into the majors in 1993 and played his first full season the following year, when he finished second to the Royals’ Bob Hamlin in voting for Rookie of the Year. Ramirez went on to establish himself as one of the game’s most feared hitters, adopting a dreadlock hairdo that seemed to mirror his happy-go-lucky demeanor.

He signed with the Red Sox as a free agent in December 2000, helping the long-suffering franchise win the World Series a few years later, then doing it again in 2007.

The Red Sox traded him to the Dodgers in July 2008. He instantly became a fan favorite on the West Coast, with “Mannywood” signs popping up around town, as he led Los Angeles to the NL West title and a sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs. The clutch performances earned Ramirez a $ 45 million, two-year contract.

All that goodwill fizzled the following May, when Ramirez tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug often used to help mask steroid use.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt

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Windows 8 for tablets hands-on preview (video)

September 14, 2011

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

Just last week, we got our paws on Samsung’s Series 7 Slate, and it’s already making its second debut. This time around, however, it’s sporting a much more mouthwatering setup. No, it’s not dawning Lady Gaga’s edible leftovers; this new look comes courtesy of Microsoft’s much teased and hotly anticipated touch-friendly OS, Windows 8. As you’ve likely already heard, the latest incarnation of the operating system is something entirely new for Redmond, and, as it turns out, the world. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before, but that won’t stop us from making comparisons.

Like Apple’s latest attempt at a desktop OS, Windows 8 borrows largely from its mobile kin, Window Phone 7, bringing its signature live tiles to tablets and PCs, and from what we’ve seen it does so effortlessly. Before we go ruining a good thing, however, we have to point out that this isn’t everything Windows has to offer — it’s still a developers preview (and in turn, an OS under construction), and the device it’s running on hasn’t been approved as an official Windows 8 slate. Got all that? Good. Read on for our first impressions! Windows 8 for tablets hands-on preview

You’ll hear the words “Metro-style” almost endlessly surrounding the release of Windows 8. Live tiles, hidden menus and controls, large, flashy graphics, bold white type, multi-touch gestures: these are the characteristics that set the OS apart from its predecessor and, to some degree, from its competitors. You won’t see any of the old, static Windows here, unless of course you choose to — the desktop that you’ve grown used to in Windows 7 is still present, albeit as an app, but more on that later. If your familiar with Windows Phone 7, the user experience should be pretty familiar, but not entirely so.


Two major components of the Metro UI are touch and personalization, both of which become obvious at login. Users can select a personalized lock screen as well as choosing between three login methods: standard password, PIN, or picture password. The last of which allows you to chose a photo from any of your various photo deposits, including a myriad apps and cloud storage spaces, and then apply three touch gestures to authenticate that you are indeed the master of your machine. We zipped through this process, poking the eyes of a precious pit bull to get to the start screen. This start page is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the starting point for absolutely everything you do, and it’s likewise skinned to fit your every whim and fancy.

Live tiles are carried over here from Windows Phone 7, showing you real time updates for various apps of your choosing. Currently those apps are limited to a handful of intern-generated test options, but real deal offerings will be in effect by the time the app store goes live — whenever that is. Unlike the mobile OS, navigation here is a left-to-right affair, as oppose to up and down, and is indeed as snappy as we’ve been lead to believe. Though we did have some slow moving launch times in a couple of the heavier apps, navigation was never sluggish.

One thing becomes abundantly clear when you’re zipping through those customizable live tiles: Microsoft is banking on touch screens. The outfit’s execs weren’t shy on that point at yesterday’s press preview, going so far as to say that “a monitor without touch feels dead,” but the proof is in the pudding. Fortunately, most of the touch gestures are perfectly responsive; simple swipes left and right allowed for quick scrolling, a swipe from the right edge of the screen pulled up the appropriate navigation menu, and a gentle tap and pull on any given tile selected it for customization, but there was one gesture we never managed to master. Live tiles are supposed to be easily reorganized, and they are, but so are their selected groupings. A simple pinch-to-zoom technique should bring up a simplified overview of the entire start page, allowing you to rename and customize groupings. However, no amount of pinching or prodding could get our prototype to fall in line, thus our tile teams went unnamed.

Because not every PC has a touch screen quite yet, we’ve been told you can use the conventional keyboard and mouse to make your way through the new UI. While we weren’t able to get our hands on a compatible mouse in time for this write up, we did give the Series 7′s keyboard a spin, and, much as we experienced in our first hands-on with the device, it got the job done. But Windows 8 is clearly a touchy-feely OS, and its various ways of getting text on the page are a testament to that. There are three different methods for text input: two touch keyboards and handwriting. We were amazed that throwing down our signature chicken scratch actually proved fruitful, but handwriting on any computer still seems counterintuitive. The other two keyboards were responsive, and the layout was as good as any we’d seen.

Like we said before, swiping from the left side on any screen pulls up a navigation menu that serves the same general purpose as the more traditional start menu. Along that right edge reside a series of five “charms,” as they’ve been unfortunately named: Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. We won’t to go into detail on all of these, but there are a couple of things worth pointing out here. First, these charms are always hiding along that edge, no matter where you are in your experience, be it scrolling through your RSS feed for the latest on Beyonce’s baby bump or scribbling naughty what-nots on your Ink Pad. Second, the search function not only allows you to search the contents of your computer, but also select apps. Finally, if you’re in an app that has it activated, you can use the share charm to Tweet your latest Facebook update, or Facebook your favorite recipe. It’s another point at which it becomes apparent that this is a desktop OS with a mobile mind.

At the center of this new, more design-friendly OS are full screen apps, part of a more humble user interface, according to Microsoft, but more likely part of a greater trend. We’ve already seen Apple give you the option in Lion, but Windows 8 takes the dedication a step further, ensuring that all Metro UI apps get maximum real estate. As on the start page, swiping from any of the four edges pulls up menus and options. If you swipe from the left, you can navigate through other open apps, even snapping them in place for a split-screen view. The right side contains the hidden charms, while the bottom and top are reserved for app-specific controls.

That full-screen experience is carried over into the browser, which also gets the Metro treatment, giving you unencumbered viewing of whatever it is you look at on the internet. Frankly, we’ve never been put out by scroll bars, tabs, or URLs, but it seems nothing is untouched by Windows 8′s new Metro wand. And, truth be told, after doing without for a while, we’re not entirely sure we miss all the added distractions.

As far as Microsoft has come with its latest OS, there’s no denying its roots, and, honestly, we can’t imagine that “Metro” will catch on with the enterprise sect — at least not soon. Redmond’s made it clear that “everything that runs on Windows 7 runs on Windows 8,” which is true, but we can’t help but feel like it’s gone just a little too far with all of this Metro business. The normal desktop view, which will play host to your more serious applications like Excel and Photoshop, is treated just like your Twitter client and RSS feed. It’s an app like any other on the Start page, but in reality it’s an entirely different user interface. Yes, touch and stylus controls are the same, and there are a few style cues carried over from the Metro UI, but tap on that desktop icon and you’re served with a healthy helping of OS déjà vu.

With the introduction of OS X Lion, Apple gave us a glimpse at what a post-PC operating system might look like, and now Microsoft’s gone and pushed that idea to the limit. If Cupertino’s latest was a tease, than Windows 8 is full frontal. And we have to admit, we like what we see. Sure this may not be the final build, or anywhere near it, but for whatever flaws it may have, the UI being offered in this developer preview is really something special. Time will tell if the “one ecosystem to rule them all” approach will catch on, but for now it’s time to give props where props are due — at least until we can get our hands on a final build.

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